(CNN) Walking into an elevator Wednesday, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida told CNN that the vote on a bill to codify same-sex marriage was a “stupid waste of time.”
But when he said it, there was another senator in the elevator who heard him: Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin who is also the first known gay politician elected to the U.S. Senate.
“He probably would have been happy to be in the elevator to see the exchange,” Baldwin told CNN on Thursday, adding, “of course I” spoke to him about that comment.
“I said ‘the recent Supreme Court decision undermined the constitutional right to privacy. There are a whole bunch of cases that have been decided on the basis of the constitutional right to privacy that are at risk,’ which he disagrees with. And anyway, I said we’ll talk about something else,” she said.
Baldwin did not reveal what Rubio’s response was. She also declined to say whether she was offended by his remark.
“We’re not going to get into (that),” Baldwin said. “I’m counting the votes.”
Baldwin also predicted that they would have 10 GOP votes to break a filibuster attempt when the bill eventually comes up.
Rubio and other Republican senators argued that the bill was “unnecessary” because there was no danger to same-sex marriage, as the Supreme Court’s majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito sought to separate its decision on abortion from other decisions involving the right to privacy, such as same-sex marriage. In a separate concurring opinion, however, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote separately that he specifically called for reconsideration of those other rulings.
Baldwin’s announcement came on the same day that her fellow Wisconsin senator, Republican Ron Johnson, voiced his support for the same-sex marriage bill.
In a statement, Johnson called the bill “unnecessary” but said that if it comes up for a Senate vote as expected, he sees “no reason to oppose it.”
Johnson is one of five Senate Republicans expected to vote for the bill. While most of the conference is deadlocked, Republican and Democratic senators said earlier this week they expected the bill to eventually win the votes needed to end the filibuster, a sign of growing public acceptance and a sea change on the issue that has once sharply divided the two parties.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, has said he wants to bring the bill up for consideration soon, but has not said when he expects a vote. He added that he was “impressed with how much bipartisan support the bill received in the House.”
The Senate goes on August recess in two weeks, making it unlikely that it will be able to get the floor before then, especially since senators are already trying to pass a bill to boost semiconductor chip production and a separate economic package. Taking it after August brings the debate closer to the midterm elections and will allow Democrats to highlight what they believe are key social issues important to voters.